Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Reflections of ELT Students on Their Progress in Language and Vocabulary Use in Portfolio Process

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Reflections of ELT Students on Their Progress in Language and Vocabulary Use in Portfolio Process

Article excerpt


Writing in the target language is an essential skill to be developed, and to this end, reading and writing skills need to be integrated so that students can be engaged in an active and effective learning process in order to help them create a positive change in their progress and achievement. Hence, it should be highly important to see in an integrated reading-writing course, particularly in an ELT context, to what extent students perceive the portfolio-keeping process with respect to language and vocabulary use. This study aimed to explore the reflections of freshmen learners at an ELT department in Turkey on the portfolio process in The Advanced Reading-Writing Course with respect to their progress in language and vocabulary use. Qualitative survey methodology was used to gather the data. The participants were 46 freshman learners attending The Department of English Language Teaching. The data were collected through the reflective essays in which the students reported their views on the portfolio process as well as their development. The data analysis was done by means of content analysis. Unstructured interview technique was also used to capture the students' perceptions and learning experiences. The findings indicate that the portfolio-keeping process as part of the Advanced Reading-Writing Course gave the students the opportunity to develop their level in writing with respect to language and vocabulary use. The students report that they benefited from the integration of reading and writing skills in spite of the workload, which also reflected into their speaking skill and pronunciation as well. The process also gave the students the opportunity to self-evaluate their progresses in both writing and speaking skill. It is also reported by the students that the portfolio-keeping process helped the students build their self-confidence in language and vocabulary use. Consequently, the findings show that portfolio-keeping enhances the gains throughout the process and helps to create a positive attitude towards writing in the target language.

Keywords: portfolio, language and vocabulary use, integrated language skills, ELT

1. Introduction

The concept of portfolio, which can be defined as systematic collection of students' products in order to exhibit their progress and achievement in a field of study, has been extensively used and applied in teaching a foreign language over the last couple of decades. Various research studies and the scholars who strongly believe in the use of a portfolio process in language classroom specifically focused on the benefits of and purposes behind a portfolio-keeping process (Herman, Gearhart, & Aschbacher, 1996; Murphy & Camp, 1996; Hamp-Lyons & Condon, 2000; Weigle, 2000; Delett, Barnhardt, & Kevorkian, 2001; Lo, 2010). It is generally agreed that a student portfolio is not a folder composed of a student's products, but rather a purposeful collection of written pieces, or 'selected entries compiled in accordance with class goals' (Johns, 1995, p. 1), which demonstrates what a student has experienced throughout the process of learning, his/her growth and achievement (Moya & O'Malley, 1994; Arter, Spandel, & Culham, 1995; Gottlieb, 1995; O'Malley & Pierce, 1996; Johnson & Rose, 1997; Mullin, 1998; Hamp-Lyons & Condon, 2000; Brown, 2004). In short, student portfolio can be used as a tool to assess multiple dimensions of language learning by evaluating both the quality of their written products and their progress over time (O'Malley & Pierce, 1996; Brown, 2004).

For instance, Herman et al. (1996, p. 29) offer a set of purposes for portfolio use and assessment which have to be considered before attempting to apply a portfolio-keeping process:

accountability in evaluating program or curriculum effectiveness, evaluating individual student progress and certifying student accomplishment, diagnosing students' needs, ..., helping teachers become more effective, encouraging reflective practice at the school and classroom levels, supporting teachers' professional development, helping students become better learners, promoting student's self-assessment and motivating student performance. …

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